Sub project #7:

Heron eggs and environmental quality in the YRD region

Background information

Eggs of various bird species have proved efficient indicators for temporal trend monitoring and screening of contaminants. Fish consuming birds are assumed to show elevated concentration of biomagnifying compounds. If sampling is carried out in a consistent way there are reasons to expect lower random variation in the measured concentrations compared to e.g. fish. It can give information relevant for environmental as well as human risk assessment. Heron eggs are also used for human consumption.

Objectives and specific aims

  • To identify a suitable species for long term monitoring of chemical contaminants and for collection of material for the environmental specimen bank. One suggested species is the night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). The night heron is abundant and fairly wide spread in the YRD-region. 
  • To assess trends and status of known chemicals as well as novel emerging environmental contaminants in heron eggs.
  • To identify suitable sample sites for heron eggs.


Sampling and chemical analyses of night heron and whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) eggs has so far been conducted. In the analyzed samples, PCBs, OCPs, PBDEs, and dioxins have been detected. 

Research team: Qinghui Huang, Anders Bignert, Lillemor Asplund, Yihui Zhou, Ge Yin, Sara Danielsson, Elisabeth Nyberg and Ioannis Athanassiadis.

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